It’ll All Be Okay.

A year ago I completed the last assignment of the last class of my masters program. For our final assignment we had to write about whatever we wanted in whatever form we wanted. Of course, I immediately knew that I would write about Clementine.  I wrote my first draft frantically, pouring out the details, bleeding all over the page, tears running down my face.  When I finished I felt lighter and extremely nervous. I shared my story with my group the next day and they suggested I turn it into a poem. That night I sat back down and began deleting anything that wasn’t essential. I tore it apart, turning three single spaced pages into 15 lines. Once more I felt a lump in my throat and tears running down my cheeks. It was completely different and yet exactly the same.  It told our story beautifully and accurately. The next day, when I shared it with my group, my teacher listened in.  When I finished reading it she remarked, “What is it called?” I’ve always been pretty terrible with titles and hesitantly responded: “Clementine?” My teacher shook her head and said, “It’s not about her. It’s about him. Were you there for him like he was there for you?”

I thought about what she said on my ride home, I stayed awake all night thinking about it, and I was still thinking about it the next day. I read my poem again, and realized that when I pared down my story, when I removed anything extraneous, it WAS about Joel. It had always been about him. It was about the strength of our relationship and our love for each other. It was about something amazing and terrible and beautiful and horrifying, and how the months leading up to, surrounding, and following the birth of our daughter, left us stronger and more in love than ever. It was about the birth of our first and then second son. It was about how 10.5 years ago, when I opened my heart to him, I was making the best decision of my life.

As I watch my husband laugh with our two boys, I am reminded that my life is exactly as it is supposed to be. If Clementine hadn’t left us, this life that I know and love would not exist. I wouldn’t have my sweet, inquisitive, generous Wyatt, who told me the other day, “Mommy, I’m going to go to heaven to say goodbye to Clementine, but then I’ll come back to you.” I wouldn’t have my carefree Calvin who smiles endlessly and is the light of my life.

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And so, even though I wish, wish, wish I could hug my baby girl and smother her in kisses, and hear her sweet voice, I know that I can’t. Even though I’d give anything to hear my daughter say something that makes her two little brothers break out in giggles, to hear her regale us with her kindergarten achievements and woes, to see what my darling girl looks like as a five year old, I know instead I must thank her for giving me this blessed life. I must tell her that I am eternally grateful that she is my daughter and that she has helped us shape these two beautiful boys. I miss my sweet, darling girl every moment of every day, and I know that some day I’ll get to do all the things listed above. But, today, on her 5th birthday, I must instead be grateful. I love you baby girl. Thank you for giving me so much.

My ode to the beautiful, tragic, perfect life I have been given:

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

Let’s have a baby he said to me. I agreed.

I’m going to love being a daddy he said to me. I smiled.

I can’t wait to meet this baby he said to me. I cried.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

Go to the hospital the doctor said to us. We hurried.

Something’s wrong with the baby the doctor said to us. We feared.

We need to deliver the baby now the doctor said to us. We hugged.

Your baby is ill the doctor said to us. We worried.

Your baby is dying the doctor said to us. We sobbed.

Our daughter is beautiful he said to me. I smiled.

Let’s name her Clementine he said to me. I nodded.

It’s over now he said to me. I mourned.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I wondered.

We should try again he said to me. I stared.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

It’s time he said to me. I grinned.

It’s a boy he said to me. I laughed.

Our son is beautiful he said to me. I smiled.

It’ll all be okay he said to me. I believed him.

Hell hath frozen over

Ready for a laugh?  Let’s all go back to that time approximately 7 years ago when I loaded up the last of our things and flipped AZ the bird and swore up and down and left and right that I would never, NEVER, not ever, move back to Arizona.  (Okay, I didn’t ACTUALLY flip AZ the bird, and when we came back for a visit a year later I cried enormous tears because I missed AZ so much… but let’s not focus on that part).  As far as I was concerned, Arizona and I were over.  It wasn’t you, Arizona, it was me.

Well, here we are.  Back in our old stomping grounds, living with my folks.  Wait, what?  Oh yeah, remember that time I said it would be fun to buy an old house and fix it up?  Oh man, I’m hilarious.  Okay, no, it was super fun and exciting buying a house on a total whim:

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See how happy we look?  We were going to move back to Arizona, live in our cool new house and then who knew what would happen.  And then we went crazy:

This:

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Very, very quickly became this:

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And this:

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became this:

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And this:

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turned into this:

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And, we became this:

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A very happy, albeit very homeless family of four bumming a place to stay and wearing the same pair of pants over and over again.

Motherhood

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“Do you think you’ll try for a girl?” is probably the most frequent response I get after telling people I’m having another (gasp!) boy. A good friend of mine with two boys told me that when people would ask her if they were planning on having a 3rd child she would respond, “Yep, we’re going to try for another boy.” Haha.

The thing is, I already have a daughter. And, I suppose in fairness to the strangers who are asking me really personal questions about my reproductive plans, the fact that I have a daughter isn’t obvious. However, I do have a daughter. I conceived and carried her. I delivered and held her. I fell head over heels in love with her and love her more today than I did the day she was born. Of course, she isn’t here with us, and so that makes people confused or uncertain about whether I actually have a daughter or not. No, I don’t get to comb her hair and pin back her curls with bows. No, I don’t get to paint her nails. No, I’ll never see her in a wedding dress. But, are those the things that make me a mother? I don’t think so. I think motherhood is about loving someone with every fiber of your being, and knowing that they love you too. When I think about Clementine and motherhood, my biggest worry and concern is whether I make her proud. Whether I am raising her brother (soon to be brothers) the right way. Whether she knows how much I love her. Whether I’m doing a good job.

Do I miss having a daughter? No. I miss having MY daughter. My son is amazing. My love for him is so much more than I ever thought possible, and as my other son’s birthday approaches, I feel Clementine’s absence even more. She is such a fundamental part of our family. Would another daughter remedy that? Of course not. 1000 more daughters wouldn’t replace the one that we lost. That’s what makes asking me if we’re going to try for a girl such an insulting question. Insulting to Clementine, insulting to Wyatt, and insulting to this new baby boy I’m growing. I love my children, and feel honored to be their mother. I am proud of my family and hope they are proud of me.

Are we going to try for another baby after this one? I should like to think there’s another baby in our future. Heck, maybe the next pregnancy will be twins. Twin boys!

Neglected

I was looking through the blog yesterday and realized the last time I posted anything was before Christmas. It was last YEAR. What the heck have I been doing?? Oh yeah, that’s right, I’ve been in the semester from HELL. What is the semester from HELL (imagine a booming, echoing voice) you ask? Oh, it’s just this really dumb idea I had to take winter session and then 9 credits in the Spring, because, you know, I love never seeing my husband or son or getting more than a few hours of sleep at night. Here’s what happened: In January I took winter session, which was 3 credits over 3 weeks. It was awesome. I wish all of my graduate courses could be over that quickly. So, then, when it was recommended that I take 9 credits in the spring rather than the measly 6 I took in the fall, I thought, yeah, classes 3 days a week will be fine… just like winter session. Right? Wrong. Big. Fat. Terrible. Wrong. I failed to take into consideration the fact that it’s 3 classes a week for 15 excruciating weeks. And so, here I sit, on the eve of my much needed, much anticipated Spring Break, and all I want to do is cry a little bit when I realize that I’ll have another 4 weeks of hell after Spring Break. Lucky for me I have an incredibly patient husband and incredibly supportive parents and an incredibly amazing son who doesn’t lay the guilt on too thick. Although some of the time (a lot of the time) I say, “Hi Wyatt!” and he will respond “Bye bye Mommy.” Sob. And then there are the times when I say “okay buddy, I have to go to class now” and he says, “NO, mommy home! Mommy HOME!” Double sob.

So, in my busiest semester of all time, I have neglected to document all the amazing things we have done since Santa terrified the crap out of Wyatt (literally). I thought about how to best correct this terrible thing I have done as a mother (failure to document every last thing my adorable munchkin does in his life!!!) and I realized that I just can’t. Oh well. I’ll leave you with a handful of my favorite pictures from the past four months and we’ll just have to leave it at that. 11636657384_63f8843232_o

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Birthday Girl

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Dearest Clementine,

Happy Birthday Sweetheart! Three years old. I often think of the whirlwind way in which you came into this world. With equal parts excitement and terror you were born. And you were perfect.

It may seem like all Wyatt all the time over here since your little brother was born, but I assure you, not a moment goes by that we aren’t thinking of you. Wyatt’s presence in our lives has made me love you (and miss you) all the more. Wyatt has recently started pointing at pictures of you, looking at us questioningly. We tell him who you are. We tell him you’re his big sister and you love him very much. He seems happy with this answer.

I can’t help but sit and wonder what life would be like with you and Wyatt here, in one place. I know you’d love him and hate him, in the way only a big sister can. I know you’d read to him, and hug him, and get annoyed with him when he wants what you’re playing with (in the way only a little brother does). It makes me smile to think about.

I love you sweet girl.

Happy Birthday Darling

Love,
Mama

Blast from the Past

I was cleaning up some things around the blog yesterday and stumbled upon some incomplete drafts from years ago.  I deleted most of them because they were more than a little ridiculous, but there were a few that I just had to share.  Here is one I wrote almost a year after we moved to Brooklyn.  We moved in May, didn’t come home for Christmas, and by the time we finally did visit in April, I was a homesick mess:

“Dear Arizonans,

The hubs and I had a wonderful time hiking, running, laying out, and most importantly, visiting you. I hate to admit it, but at one point during our visit I had a bit of a melt down.  Through tears, snot, and blubbering, the words, “Why did we ever leave?” assaulted Joel’s ears. Because my husband is so wonderful, he quickly hid the horror/fear in his eyes and gently asked me if I wanted to move back. Luckily for him, we were then forced to spend the next 45 mins stuck in traffic on the I-10, and I quickly came to my senses. So, when you’re finished reading this blog, take a minute or two to surf the net for some cheap tickets to NYC.

You know you miss us.

Sincerely,

Your daughter, sister, friend”

Ha!  Oh the silliness.  What a lifetime ago that was.  We moved to NYC 5.5  years ago and I can’t even imagine not having made this move.  We’ve had 2 apartments, 2 children, and more than our fair share of joy and disappointment.  We are old, we are wiser, we are happier than ever…  But, still come visit us!  Seriously.  We miss you lots.

Smorgusburg

So, I’m really behind in my posts.  I have three in the queue, and I decided it would be best to do them in chronological order, but seriously, it’s been so long since we went to Smorgusburg, I don’t even remember what we ate.  No, that’s not true.  I ate doughnuts from Dough.  And they were delicious.  I’d like to say I’m somewhat of a doughnut connoisseur – but the truth is, if there’s a doughnut, I’ll find it – and then eat it.  Any time, any place.  Starting to get a hankering for doughnuts right now…

Anyway, if you don’t know what Smorgusburg is, or have never been, I highly recommend it.  Food vendors galore.  Aside from the donuts, we ate sticky rice, wontons and dumplings, ice cream sandwiches, bubble tea, a sandwich, and something spicy (Sorry, the details are a little fuzzy this far out – I warned you!).

And, that’s all I have to say about that.  Look at the pretty pictures below and forgive me for writing the worst blog ever.  Three more to go!  Eek.

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In Living Color

It’s that time of year again. The time when everywhere you look things are turning from drab and dreary to bright and cheery.

This is the time when everyone takes a big sigh of relief and says, yes, THIS is why I put up with the evil grayness of winter.  This is the time when we all fall back in love with this ridiculous place.

Case in point: Tulips and lilac.  These beauties make it all worth it.

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Life As I Know It

Last week I left the babe in NY and traveled all by myself to Arizona to meet a friend’s new baby. I’ll be honest, I had some mixed feelings before I left… just not about what you might think. I had no reservations about leaving Wyatt at home. I knew he was in good hands and would be just fine without me for a couple of days. No, I wasn’t worried about him. I was worried about me. I was worried that holding a teeny, tiny, newborn babe in my arms would make me baby hungry (ok, truth be told, baby hungrier). I know, I know, you’re thinking, “You have a 6.5 month old baby! What the hay would make you want another baby right now?” Well, that’s the thing. I can’t stop myself from doing the math and feeling short changed by the answer.

1 pregnancy + 1 pregnancy = 1 baby.

That’s not right!  I did the two pregnancy thing, I should be doing the two kid thing.  I was worried about what might happen when I entered the now two child household of my friend. Would I watch her interact with her toddler and teensy and feel shortchanged? Would I snatch up those kiddos and make a break for it? Would I feel sad and envious?

Answer: None of the above.

For the first time since we lost Clementine, seriously, the FIRST time, I felt perfectly happy and content with the way my life is RIGHT NOW. EXACTLY as it is right now. Wyatt is entering a glorious stage. His personality is forming rapidly and every day he gives me new reasons to smile. He raises his eyebrow at me when he wants to give a little sass, he claps on command (well, when he feels like it), he sticks his tongue out and blows raspberries, he laughs and he smiles and he gives the best hugs.  I no longer spend every second terrified I’m going to break him.  He holds on to me as tightly as I hold onto him!  We’ve moved him into his own room where he sleeps though the night and I only check on him once or twice in the night (it’s the truth!).  I love the way my life is and finally, FINALLY, the feeling of panic and hurry, hurry, rush rush, has slowed to a crawl.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about why watching my friend interact with her two girls made me feel as though my life is perfect just the way it is. It’s not as if her toddler is a terror and her baby screamed uncontrollably.  It wasn’t like that at all.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Those kids are freaking cute. The almost three year old is bright and cheerful and precocious and inquisitive. She is loving and generous. Her baby sister is teensy and wobbly headed and just learning to smile. She stares at the world wide-eyed and curious.  And then there are the moments when the whole family is together.  There is nothing that warms the heart more than watching loving parents in the presence of their children.  For the briefest of moments I was the fly on the wall, and I liked what I saw.

And, there we have it. I was able to witness what results when a child is loved and educated and nurtured by family. I got to see what an amazing little kid Wyatt will grow up to become, and, when we are ready to add another to the mix, how he will welcome that new baby with pride and joy and thousands of hugs and kisses.  I learned a lot about being a good mother during my visit.  I came home with a lot of new tricks up my sleeve and I’m super excited to share them with Wyatt over the next few months and years.  Being a mother is something special and I decided I no longer need to hurry my way through it to get to the next thing.

Of course, now that I am feeling 100% content with my life EXACTLY AS IT IS…

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It’s Not Easy Being Little

Parks are for big kids. Even the littlest parks, designed for the littlest kids, are meant for kids bigger than Wyatt. He’s just a little too little.

Slides are confusing and not that fun:
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But feet? Feet are awesome, always.

 

Swings can be fun… but sometimes, they make you feel like you’re sitting in a giant’s chair:
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Standing can be stressful:
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It’s too much Dad, I can’t handle the responsibility!

 

But, regardless of size, there is one thing at the park that brings Wyatt joy all day, every day:
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Licking the railing.

Half a Decade

Five years
Two children
Countless reasons to laugh and cry together
And an anniversary spent watching this guy splashing in the tub…

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Best five years of my life.

 

Daydreamer

As human beings it seems to be a huge part of our nature to look forward to things rather than actually being in the moment we are currently living.  Sometimes we spend so much of our time imagining and dreaming of what will be in the future that we truly miss out on what we have going on right now.  I know I am guilty of this, in fact, I have always have been guilty of this.  I spend the entire fall dreaming of Christmas and the entire winter fantasizing about spring.  Once spring arrives I count down the days until summer vacation is here and I make lists of all the things I’m going to do with my glorious summer.  Of course, 99% of the time, the things that I imagined never come true.

The fantasy:

-Spend every day enjoying our new backyard, getting a glorious tan, and reading to my heart’s content.

-Organize all of my lesson plans and improve the ones that were lacking.

-Sew one quilt and one pillow a week to stockpile my Etsy store before the summer ended.

The reality:

-Hottest summer EVER… refused to leave the house.

-West Nile Virus mosquitoes frequenting our neighborhood… bonus reason to NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE.

-Didn’t so much as open my work computer.  Not even once.

-Did a lot of sewing… but only increased my Etsy shop by 2 quilts and 1 pillow

 

Although my fantasy didn’t match my reality (and  I spent a decent amount of time fantasizing about what I plan on doing when the weather turns beautiful this fall), I realized a few things about my present that left me wondering what else I’m missing all those times I’m wishing away the moment.

Since Joel now works from home, this summer was the first time in our marriage that we were able to spend all day, every day, together.  That allowed us to eat breakfast and lunch together, to make dinner together, and to enjoy each other at a nice, leisurely pace.  It was during one of these very beautiful evenings that I began to actually notice my present.  I was cutting up tomatoes for dinner while Joel was in the backyard gathering kale for a salad.  We had music playing in the kitchen and a nice breeze was blowing through the house.  As I stood there I realized, “I feel happy.”  Whoa.  When did that happen?  How long have I felt this way?  Have I been so busy wishing and hoping and waiting for happiness to return to my life that I actually missed its much anticipated arrival?  I have been fantasizing about this day since I lost Clementine.  I have been waiting and wishing and hoping and praying that her death didn’t cost me a lifetime of happiness and normalcy.  And, here it is.  It has returned.  And to think I might have missed it had I been spending that moment dreaming of the day when things were better.

I can’t say I am going to eliminate all daydreaming and future gazing from my repertoire, but I am trying to hold on to the present a little more than I used to.  Today I am happy, and that is good enough for me.

Back To School Time?

I’ve been noticing a rather alarming trend in the commercials on television lately.  Something about school supplies, and backpacks, and back-to-school clothing… Although I am doing my very best to change the channel as soon as the horrifying offender tries to weasel its way into my glorious summer, but I’m starting to get the feeling that school is starting soon.  Unless you live in Arizona, then school has already begun.  Wah wah.

I’m feeling completely shocked and overwhelmed that August is ALMOST OVER ALREADY!  What happened?  Where did the time go?

While I didn’t quite get everything done this summer that I intended (although I’m working really hard these last 2 weeks to make it so), I have been working away on a lot of sewing projects.  In case you haven’t already, check out my Making Lemonade site to see what I’ve made this summer.

Other things I plan on getting finished before summer officially ends:

1. Reupholster the yellow chair

2. Organize my shoe cabinet

3. Can some tomatoes

I know, I know, I’ve got some big dreams.

Parents

At the ripe old age of 28+ I have convinced myself that I am an adult.  I make adult decisions about which healthcare plan to select and regularly contribute to my retirement fund.  I cook healthy meals and shop at the Home Depot.  And yet, when my parents come for a visit, I instantly revert to a child who just wants to be taken care of.  Is this something I ought to be ashamed of?  Beats me.  Regardless, it happens every time.

Last time my parents visited was in December where we hosted our very first Brooklyn Christmas.  When I mentioned to coworkers that my parents and sibs were coming to stay with us for the holidays most often I received looks of sympathy and expressions like, “oh gosh!  They’re STAYING with you?”  What they failed to realize was that even during something as stressful as hosting a holiday dinner and housing 5 guests in our 2 bedroom apartment, when my parents are here they take it upon themselves to take care of me in every way imaginable.  I can say without a doubt that last December was the most relaxed I have been in a LONG time.  I rested and read and ate freshly baked cookies.  I didn’t have to worry about anything because it was all being taken care of.

This weekend concluded a week long visit from my parents.  During this week I once again reverted into a little kid and watched as my parents made everything better.  It went a little something like this:

Dad: Did you know the bulbs in your bathroom are burnt out?
Me: Yes. (with a slightly apologetic shrug)

And so Dad replaces the bulbs not only in the bathroom, but in the kitchen, bedroom, living room and parlor.

My parents went on to make dinner every night, clean the bathroom and kitchen, pick up the house, re-grout and caulk the entire bathroom, come to the rescue during an antmergency and let me just relax.  They fix everything that is broken and alleviate any and all burdens.

I don’t know if I’m alone in this phenomenon, and honestly, I don’t really care.  My parents are wonderful.  I love having them around and I imagine that at some point I’ll stop reverting and instead become the one taking care of THEM.